Kleinwort and Hambros merger 'secures future'

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Both Kleinwort Benson and SG Hambros have been in the island since the 1960s and were among the pace-setters of private banks establishing in the Channel Islands.

Both have, in recent years, been bought by European banks, and particularly KB in Guernsey has gone through a number of changes, most recently the sale of its funds business to JTC Group.

'The merger puts both businesses on a firmer footing,' said Eric Barnett, chief executive officer of Kleinwort Hambros, the new business formed following the purchase of the BHF Kleinwort Benson Group by the French group Oddo & Cie, and subsequent sale of its UK and islands business to Hambros' parent company Societe Generale.

Mr Barnett has spent 30 years with Hambros, including a four-year spell in Guernsey between 1996 and 2000 as its head of private banking in the island.

He welcomed the move, which will see 171 staff from KB join 110 at Hambros in its offices in St Julian's Avenue.

The integration of the two business should be completed in the first half of next year, though some staff have already moved office.

'From a London and Channel Islands perspective, I have always felt KB was the closest "cousin" to Hambros among our competitors,' Mr Barnett said.

'We were both owned by European banks, both focused on private banking with a London and Channel Islands footprint, not carbon copies of each other but culturally very similar and with a similar client base.

'There was a recognition of the logic in the deal at the outset.'

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